Out of more than 1,000 salvia species, many are native to the United States, so it’s not a surprise if you also have one in your garden.
They give off a fragrant smell that attracts pollinators, and their colorful blooms add beauty to your yard.
But if you haven’t had the best luck with maintaining them, below are a few tips you can do to make sure they survive and thrive this season.
Give Plenty of Sunlight
Salvias prefer to be under full to partial sun, so make sure to place them in a sunny area in your garden. Annual species need at least 6-8 hours of sun exposure to produce the most blooms, but some perennials can thrive in partial shade.
You’ll know when your salvias aren’t getting enough sun when they show signs of stretching or bending toward the light.
If it’s not possible to give your salvias a full day of sunshine, you can also supplement it with a grow light. Set them up in a greenhouse, and you can watch how much they bloom throughout the season!
Use Well-draining Soil
Salvias can survive in practically any type of soil as long as it’s well-draining. But if you want the specifics, they prefer a slightly acidic medium with a pH of 5-5 to 6.5. You can test the pH of your soil by using a soil pH tester probe.
If you’re working with clay soil, make sure to mix in some organic matter to improve its drainage. This can either be compost, farm manure, or dry leaves. Otherwise, plant your salvias in a pot or container to limit the amount of water the soil absorbs.
Keep Soil Dry
Salvias need well-draining soil because they tend to get root or stem rot and fungal diseases if their roots sit in wet conditions for an extended period of time.
Considering they’re drought-tolerant, you won’t also have to water them frequently. Make sure the soil is completely dry before you give them a drink to prevent overwatering.
You’ll probably have to water them more often in the summer since the heat dries the soil faster. But hold off on watering them in winter since mixing the frost and water is a definite recipe for root rot.
Deadhead Spent Flowers
Many adore having salvias in their garden because of their ability to produce flowers for long periods. When given the ideal growing conditions, they can bloom from spring to early fall.
Although you don’t have to deadhead their flowers, the plant can benefit from it. Removing spent and dying blooms can help the plant redistribute its energy and nutrients to sprouting ones instead.
To do this, you can use clippers or scissors to snip away any dried or dying blooms. But if fall or winter is approaching, hold off on deadheading since the flowers can provide extra protection for the plant against the wind and cold.
Prune Twice a Year
Salvias can grow up to 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide, depending on the species. If you have a small space, leaving them to grow can cause them to overtake your garden.
It’s recommended to prune your plant twice a year – ideally in spring and summer. If it’s the first cut of the year, wait until they wake up from the winter. Then cut down low from the base and remove any dead blooms to tidy up their shape and encourage flowering.
During the summer, cut about ⅓ off the top, right below their inflorescence. This will help them produce more flowers that can last until early fall.
If you plant salvias in poor and dry soil, they’ll still be able to survive and produce flowers. So there’s no need to feed them if they’re healthy. Overfertilizing can also give your plant plenty of growth, but it won’t be able to produce as many flowers.
The only time you need to feed is when you have your salvias in pots. Since their soil is limited, a dose of fertilizer can supply them with the proper nutrients they need to bloom. If so, choose a fertilizer that’s high in potassium, like tomato feed.
If there’s one thing gardeners loathe, it’s insect infestation on their plants. Although salvias are hardy ornamentals, they’re not immune to harmful critters.
Keep an eye out for whiteflies, aphids, and spider mites since they are their common enemies. If you spot any signs of infestations, it’s best to remove any infected leaves immediately.
You can also apply a homemade remedy of alcohol, dish soap, or vinegar to get rid of the insects before they get out of hand. Make sure to place your salvia in a shady corner after spraying to prevent their leaves from burning.
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